Carson McCullers Talks About Love review: Suzanne Vega perfectly shines in debut
– Joe Dziemianowicz NY Daily News
If you’re going to wrap a show around a writer’s life, it helps to pick an author as colorful as her characters. Suzanne Vega, singer-songwriter and, now, playwright, chose very well for her theatrical debut, “Carson McCullers Talks About Love.”
The title character was a fascinating and tortured figure. She was Southern, famous for writing “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” at 23, sexually ambidextrous and forever falling in love, well-connected (Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams were pals), partially paralyzed from a series of strokes, alcoholic, and dead at age 50.
All that comes up in the 90-minute show in which Vega comments on and embodies McCullers; slipping into a dark wig and a light Georgia accent helps her to transform. Also on stage are musicians Andy Stack and Joe Iconis, who lends his voice as random characters, sometimes with a jokiness that distracts.
Vega traces McCullers’ life with great warmth, but at times the play’s matter-of-factness chafes. Vega isn’t fully comfortable acting a role, which is also an issue.
Singing a role is another story. Vega, along with Duncan Sheik (“Spring Awakening“), have written some lovely songs, many incorporating McCullers’ own writings. From the moody “Miss Amelia’s Song” to the lively “We of Me,” the tunes add a rich texture. “Carson McCullers Talks” is at its best when the speaking stops and the singing begins.